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The Tomb of Nicholas V

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Tomb of Nicholas V - Vatican Grottoes

In the second niche on the right, upon entering the old grottoes, is the tomb of Nicholas V, Tommaso Parentucelli from Sarzana, pope from 1447-1453, who was learned, knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the new humanist culture of his time.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The pope's original tomb was in the floor and had on top of it a mediocre funerary momument leaning against the wall. The center of the monument was occupied by a grand marble portal with 2 angels with shields sitting on the tympanum. The pilasters on the sides were decorated with reliefs of saints in the superimposed niches. The sarcophagus with the lying figure of Nicholas V was in the middle of the height of the monument. Shortly after the beginning of the construction of the new basilica, the monument andt eh remains of the pope were transfered to the area in the middle of the southern wall, in the nave of the Veil. In 1576, as the work on the basilica continued, it became necessary to transfer the monument again, this time to the northern aisle. It remained there until 1606 when it was dismantled and the sarcophagus with the remains of the pope were taken to the grottoes.

The figure of the pontiff is represented lying on a draped catafalque. The folds of the vestments are rigid and archaic, even if certain elements are represented with faithful realism, e.g. the pontifical emblem with the crossed keys on the frieze of the chasuble. The profile of the pope is rendered with remarkable realism.

Almost the entire facade of the sarcophagus is occupied by a long funerary inscription, held on the sides by two rather rigid winged cherubs, showing the mediocre skill of the artist. The text of the epitaph was dictated by the humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, the future Pope Pius II. It eulogizes the pope for his culture and his pastoral, doctrinal and political activities.

On the sides of the marble coffin are two coats-of-arms of the pope with the crossed keys of St Peter, the symbol that was used for the first time by this pope. Affixed above the sarcophagus is one of four angels holding the shield that originally surmounted the frieze of the original monument.

HIC SITA SVNT QVINTI NICOLAI ANTISTITIS OSSA
AVREA QVI DEDERAT SAECVLA ROMA TIBI
CONSILIO ILLVSTRIS VIRTVTE ILLVSTRIOR OMNI
EXCOLVIT DOCTOS DOCTIOR IPSE VIROS
ABSTVLIT ERROREM QVO SCHISMA INFECERAT ORBEM
RESTITVIT MORES MOENIA TEMPLA DOMOS
TVM BERNARDINO STATVIT SVA SACRA SENENSI
SANCTA IOBELEI TEMPORA DVM CELEBRAT
CINXIT HONORE CAPVT FRIDERICI ET CONIVGIS AVREO
RES ITALAS ICTO FOEDERE COMPOSVIT
ATTICA ROMANAE COMPLVRA VOLVMINA LINGVAE
PRODIDIT EN TVMVLO FVNDITE THVRA SACRO

Deposited here are the bones of Pope Nicholoas V, who gave you, Rome, the golden era.
Illustrious in culture, more illustrious in every virtue, respected learned men as he himself
was learned. Put an end to the error of schism that had attacked the world, restored
customs, walls, churches, houses. As he celebrated the sacred time of the Jubilee, he
canonized Bernardino from Siena. He put the gold crown on the head of Frederic and his
wife, recomposed Italy by forming alliances. He had many works of the Greek authors
translated in Latin. Say a prayer in front of his sacred tomb.

Tomb of Pope Nicholas V - Vatican Grottoes
Tomb of Nicholas V
Floor Inscription at the Tomb of Nicholas V - Grottoes
Inscription at the Tomb of Nicholas V

The Polyandrium under the floor

In the floor, in front of the tomb of Nicholas V, is an ancient memorial stone with the inscription indicating that in the space underneath were deposited the bones from the Polyandrium of Paul III. It was located near the Confessio and emptied in 1948 during the excavations in the area of the tomb of St Peter. The stone was once located on the wall of the ossuary in the chapel of Salvatorello.

 

Source: Roma Sacra The Vatican Grottoes, Fabbrica of St. Peter's, June 2003

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